China's ever active technology black market is already engaged in a busy trade in iPhones - though they cost twice as much as they do in the US.

For the money, Chinese tech aficionado’s don't even get all the iPhone's features as many, such as push voice messaging, only work with networks that have deployed the relevant technology at the infrastructure end.

And while the black market edition can make calls and send texts, it's of limited use as a phone - because it can't actually receive calls.

The device isn't legitimately available in China as yet, but the black market is selling the device for the equivalent of $1,170, rather than the $499 entry-level US price.

The device is on sale at electronics markets across the country, according to Associated Press.

Apple spokesman Natalie Kerris said: "We said we would launch the iPhone in Asia in 2008," she said. "This is not that launch."

The number of Chinese mobile phone subscribers should reach 520 million this year.